Offering benefits to the partners of LGBT workers is gradually becoming a standard thing for large public employers in North Texas. The city of Dallas included domestic partner benefits in 2004, DFW Airport in 2010 and Parkland this year. Dallas County is poised to follow suit at the first of next year. It's one of those rare instances in which the right thing to do is crystal clear: Offer the same health insurance and spousal benefits to workers in committed same-sex partnerships (they can't legally marry in Texas, you'll recall) as those in traditional man-on-woman matrimony.
DART is a notable holdout, as it has so far refused to offer domestic partner benefits, or even to officially consider it, but Andrew Moss is hoping to change that. Moss, who married his husband in California five years ago, worked for four years as a DART police officer until 2008. He worked for the city of Fort Worth until health problems forced him to step down. His COBRA benefits expire in December.
"During my employment Dallas Area Rapid Transit in 2006 and 2007, I was advised by their human resources managers that DART 'Prefers not to get into the choices of their employees,'" he wrote in a Change.org petition urging the transit agency to add domestic partner benefits. "I wasn't aware my husband and I and countess others woke up one day and decided to be LGBT."
The Resource Center of Dallas, which advocates for LGBT individuals with HIV/AIDS, is now entering the fray. Chief Executive Officer Cece Cox sent a letter yesterday to the DART board noting that adding domestic partner benefits costs very little, about $21,000 for Parkland, an institution with nearly 10,000 employees.
"Adding domestic partner benefits is not an issue of cost, but instead of fairness and equitable treatment for all employees," Cox wrote. "We believe it is not too late to add this item in the budget cycle for the upcoming fiscal year beginning October 1."
That's unlikely to happen. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons told the Dallas Voice earlier this month that there are no plans for the board to discuss the issue, much less begin offering domestic partner benefits to its roughly 3,500 employees.
I sent Lyons an email yesterday to see if anything had changed. His response was one word: "No."
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